By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker
Dr. Bernice Sandler to Give 2013 Woman of Achievement Lecture
Dr. Bernice Sandler, the “godmother of title IX,” will be giving a lecture at Meredith College on February 20th. Dr. Sandler is a seasoned activist for women’s equality and played a key role in crafting and advocating for Title IX passage. The act called for equal opportunity in education; an issue Dr. Sandler took to heart after being denied a faculty position at the University of Maryland because of her gender.
According to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame:
While volunteering for the Women’s Equity Action League from 1969 to 1971, Dr. Sandler worked to enforce an Executive Order signed by President Lyndon Johnson that prohibited sex discrimination within organizations with federal contracts. While most universities did not have policies eliminating gender discrimination, most had federal contracts. Dr. Sandler filed sex discrimination complaints against 250 institutions under this Executive Order. With Representative Edith Green, she went on to spearhead hearings that documented discrimination in employment and educational opportunities. These hearings lead to the passage of Title IX and other laws eliminating overt discrimination in education. Dr. Sandler’s key role in the creation and implementation of this law gave her the nickname, the “Godmother of Title IX.”
Today most people associate Title IX with sports, but as Women In higher Education points out, the act had a huge impact in many areas:
“Title IX did more than encourage women. It acted like a shock wave” in changing social values in the United States, Sandler said, listing some major effects:
An increased awareness of sex discrimination has occurred by both women and men.
“It gave hope and courage to women to organize for change,” she said. “Women became a new advocacy group and learned the politics of change.” Of course, women were labeled “women’s libbers” and some lost their jobs.
Most policies of outright discrimination were abolished, due to women’s organizations bringing awareness to those in power, those in denial and attorneys. Examples include equity raises to women (one received $22,000) and the end of male students receiving maid service and career day events while women students got a fashion show.
The personal confidence and self-esteem of women increased, enabling them to seek and excel at a wide array of vocational and academic careers as doctors, lawyers, politicians, firefighters and police officers, to name a few.
Women’s issues have become institutionalized, including prevention of violence against women and reporting of campus crime statistics, attention to the recruitment and retention of women faculty, and the legitimizing of research on women and the issues affecting them.
The lecture is part of Meredith College’s Founders’ Day celebrations. In addition to the lecture Dr. Sandler will participate in an informal discussion at 3:30 in Jones Auditorium. Contact Bill Brown, chair of the Major Events Committee, at (919) 760-8533 for more information.